LIV PERSIAN LITERATURE 141
Nizami.—A very different class of poet, and one
whose work it is easy for the European to appreciate, is
Nizami, who was also a native of Ganja but who avoided
courts. He wrote five romantic poems, famous as the
"Five Treasuries." These works enjoy an almost un-
rivalled popularity to-day, especially Khusru and Shirin
and Layla and Majnun> scenes from which have constantly
inspired artists. From the former poem I have already
given a description of polo as played by Khusru and his
lovely spouse,1 but the central theme of the romance is the
love of Farhad for Shirin, who was promised to him if he
cut through Mount Bisitun. The gifted engineer had
all but accomplished the impossible, when by Khusru's
orders false news was conveyed to him of the death of
the beloved one, and he expressed his woe in the follow-
ing lines :
Alas the wasted labour of my youth !
Alas the hope which vain hath proved in truth !
I tunnelled mountain walls: behold my prize !
My labour's wasted : liere the hardship lies!
The world is void of sun and moon for me :
My garden lacks its box and willow tree.
For the last time my beacon-light hath shone;
Not Shirin, but the sun from me is gone !
Beyond Death's portals Shirin shall I greet,
So with one leap I hasten Death to meet!
Thus to the world his mournful tale he cried,
For Shirin kissed the ground and kissing died.
Attar.—The last poet of the pre-Mongol period is
Farid-u-Din, known as Attar, the dealer in otto of roses,
or more generally "the druggist." This remarkable
man was born at Nishapur about the middle of the
twelfth century, and apparently fell a victim to the
Mongols when his native city was sacked. The story
runs that he was seized by a Mongol who was about to
kill him, but was prevented by an offer of one thousand
dirhems for the old man. The poet, resolved on death,
persuaded his captor to await a better offer, which he did.
1 Ten Thousand Miles, etc., p. 337.